Yes, I was AWOL again, but it was in the name of writing and more importantly, having fun while. My DH was lovely enough to get up with me at 4am last Monday and take me to the train station, from which I made the four-hour journey to Glasgow Central Station. I was ecstatically greeted by my dearest of friends, Lisa, who hosted me at her new (to me) flat on the south side of Glasgow for an entire week.
We spent the first few hours in a non-stop gab session, catching up on all the things that had happened since last seeing each other at the end of March. I was on an information gathering trip for possible entries for the travel blog I am writing for and she was squeezing the last drops of a teacher's freedom during the final days of summer vacation. We plotted our week's big adventures: Glasgow and its Art Nouveau, the Fringe in Edinburgh, a couple of yarn shops in both cities, a rendezvous with an old friend from Mainz; naturally interspersed with a generous dose of Tennant's Lager.
Art Nouveau Glasgow
We set out on Tuesday morning to discover Glasgow's art historical legacy following the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Trail. CRM, or Mackintosh as I will be referring to him, may not be familiar to many of you by name. But if you saw any of his stained glass designs, you would instantly recognize them. His signature design element is a highly stylized rose (which you might be able to recognize from the chandeliers in the photo to the right).
CRM started out as an architect in Glasgow but also designed many interiors as well as furniture, textiles and other objects that broke away from the overly romanticizing style of the then predominant Victorian style. CRM was one of the forerunners of intellectually based design in art of the twentieth century, but sadly never gained the amount of recognition and reverence during his lifetime which his legacy enjoys today.
The CRM Society have a great offer in conjunction with SPT, the regional transport authority. For 12 GBP, you get admission to all 12 CRM attractions as well as unlimited travel on buses and subways. Lisa and I managed to see not even half: House for an Art Lover, The Willow Tea Rooms, The Lighthouse, The Glasgow School of Art and the Kelvingrove Gallery. It would be nearly impossible to see everything in one day unless you only stopped to photograph them from the outside.
As a lover of all things Art Nouveau and turn-of-the-century, I was in in my element. House for an Art Lover was amazing and so well done for a reproduction. My other favorite stop was the Glasgow School of Art, which is still an operating art school to this day. I can only imagine learning to hone my creativity and skills in the shadows of an edifice created by such a prolific creative genius.
In the evening, I met up with my buddy James. We worked together in Mainz teaching English and he is now in the final throws of completing a Master's in Comparative Literature at the University of Glasgow. We drifted apart while I was in Vancouver, but found each other again thanks to Facebook. Over numerous pints in the West End's Ashton Lane hangouts and finally, a church converted into a pub called Oren Mor, we reconnected and had a deliciously silly time recounting the folly of our Berlitz days (which Lisa could appreciate being an ex-Berlitzer herself).
Fringe in Edinburgh
On Wednesday, Lisa and I got up and went to the city centre to catch a bus to Edinburgh. It was one of those delightful Scottish summer days where it continually misted and eventually turned into a torrential downpour (Hence the logo on a t-shirt available for purchase: Welcome to Glasgow - Its F**cking Paradise). We grinned and bore it, huddling closely under an umbrella for one. We located our venue, picked up our show tickets, checked out the 'knitting studio' at K1 just off the Royal Mile and had a nice lunch a little cafe.
Our show, Circus Oz, was an incredibly lively, entertaining and quirky show. No wonder it received four stars from The Herald. Slightly dampened by the rain, the spirit that Fringe is renowned for still managed to shine through. Street performers the world over braved the wetness and sang or played from underneath patio umbrellas. Leafletteers were still passing out their flyers and happy to share a grin. It was amazing and I recommend it to anyone - rain or shine.
One of our mutual best friends, Erik, is coming to visit from Germany for almost two weeks and the little writer in me has a cornucopia of cultural itineraries and article ideas in store...stay tuned! But it will definitely be an effort on my part to stay disciplined and make time for my writing.